Ghost Rider #21-22
Issue(s): Ghost Rider #21, Ghost Rider #22
One thing i really like about the first Gladiator/Ghost Rider fight is that we get to see it from the Gladiator's perspective, and, for once, the Gladiator really believes that he's fighting a supernatural foe.
But the Gladiator manages to escape. Johnny heads to the Eel's rundown apartment to try to get more information from him, but he fails.
He gets into a brief fight with the Eel...
...but then the Eel is killed by someone else.
Then the Gladiator resurfaces...
...and the Ghost Rider wins the rematch fight. However, it's clear that the Gladiator didn't kill the Eel (or more likely, as Michael says below, someone stole the Eel's device before the Gladiator caught up with him, and the Gladiator subsequently killed him. But the person who winds up with the device was the Enforcer, and the Gladiator was working for the Enforcer, so why would the Enforcer steal the device and then not tell the Gladiator...?).
Ghost Rider is suspected of killing the Eel, and he has to flee from the police (actually, Blaze squares things with the police at the end of #21 but then the police are chasing him in #22 for unrelated reasons).
In issue #22, we get to meet the Enforcer...
...and see him take over the local mob using a miniaturized version of the device he acquired from the Eel.
In the same issue, Director Coot Collier finds that his son Carson has returned home, and seems to have a secret.
Johnny returns to his job as the Stunt-Master's stunt double, but the police know that Ghost Rider is Johnny Blaze, so he's forced to flee again. But he's able to escape and notices some suspicious people at Delanzy studios. He follows them all the way from Los Angeles to San Diego, and gets into a confrontation with the Enforcer, who was in the process of blowing up battleships.
Ghost Rider loses the Enforcer when their battle takes them into the water. But Blaze begins to suspect that the Enforcer is someone from Delanzy studio because of the various movie-jargon phrases he uses during their fight.
Johnny Blaze is having a hard time accepting his super-hero role...
...but by issue #22 he finds that he can force the transformation into Ghost Rider whenever he wants (instead of just when danger is present, like his previous appearance).
And he's able to convince the police that he isn't Ghost Rider.
Despite musical creative teams, there's a coherent story here.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Something of a scheduling kerfuffle for Gladiator, who was shown escaping from prison and getting defeated in New York by Daredevil in DD #140 and also appearing here on the west coast on the same publication month. Most likely this was due to the fact that the Daredevil issue was a Bill Mantlo inventory story. But the chronology has to be that the Gladiator escapes after the end of the DD story and high-tails it to LA. The DD story has to take place first because that's where he escapes the prison in Florida where he had been held. This also has to take place after Champions #11-13, per a note in Champions #12 (where GR doesn't yet have the ability to control his transformations).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showCharles L. Delazny, Coot Collier, Cosgrove (Delanzy accountant), Denny Armstrong, Eel, Enforcer, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Gladiator, Gus Utermohle, Karen Page, Roxanne Simpson, Stunt-Master
The scan you posted makes it clear than the Gladiator DID kill the Eel- he just didn't steal the gizmo.
Posted by: Michael | May 27, 2013 4:30 PM
Given that Carson Collier isn't the Enforcer (as pointed out in the issues where he's unmasked), is it worth tracking Carson? Or does he just totally disappear after the Enforcer reveal with no explanation as to what his real secret here is?
My half-formed hypothesis: Carson Collier has just started down the road to being original Scourge. At this point, his motives are actually just to become a true-blue champion of justice. But he will subsequently have his life trashed when the Enforcer steals his identity - the Marvel Appendix gives some ideas on this to explain the incorrect identification of the Enforcer in Spider-Woman. Basically, the Enforcer escapes before the authorities arrive in the story where he is unmasked and he frames Collier, who is actually caught and imprisoned for a while. In my hypothesis, this experience turns Collier from honest do-gooder to a dark vigilante-in-training.
After additional origining (during which time the "Scourge organization" recruits Collier and gives him additional training) he will later make the Enforcer his first victim and make up the story about the Enforcer being his brother as payback for the Enforcer stealing his identity.
So IF you were going to buy into that - and I don't expect you to - this would actually be the Scourge's first appearance (there's some additional canon support for this, as the OHOTMU Deluxe Edition - overseen by Gruenwald, who created the Scourge - makes clear that it's Delazny who is the Enforcer and that both Collier and Delazny are only children, meaning not only is the Scourge's story about the Enforcer being Collier's son untrue, but that the Scourge couldn't have been Collier's brother because no such brother existed. However - unless I'm missing something - he COULD have been Collier himself. And the story he told Cap would have been more-or-less true except that the "brother" he mentioned was someone he knew growing up because their fathers were both in the entertainment biz. He goes with the "brother" lie both as a shot at Delazny's attempt to steal his identity and also to make it appear that he was initially motivated by a sense of honor, rather than revenge.
Posted by: Dan H. | October 10, 2015 11:09 AM
I think this is Carson Collier Junior's only appearance, yeah, so he wouldn't be someone that i track. Unless i bought into your Scourge theory, which i like but i can't accept as canon, obviously (i try to document what's officially canon, not make up my own).
I say all this with the caveat that the whole Enforcer reveal mix-up made my head hurt and i may be misremembering things.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 10, 2015 11:33 AM
Ack - I just read further down the page on the Marvel Appendix's writeup on the Scourge (there is a separate "Carson Collier" entry toward the bottom of the page). Apparently that OHOTMU Deluxe Edition entry actually speculates that the Scourge who killed the Enforcer was Collier. I'll have to read that entry to see how "speculative" it is, but I guess I can no longer claim this as *my* hypothesis, since not only did someone else come up with it first, but they did so within the pages of the offical Marvel Handbook, even if only under the umbrella of "speculation."
That Collier entry on the Marvel Appendix site also incorporates data from the original OHOTMU, which incorrectly identified Collier as the Scourge. Apparently, Collier had left college about the time of this story as he'd gotten into dealing narcotics. So THAT was apparently his secret here or at least related to it, though that doesn't at all invalidate the idea that he eventually went the Scourge route after being framed by Delazny as the Enforcer.
Posted by: Dan H. | October 10, 2015 11:37 AM
Yeah, it's a mess - and since the only time there is a canon reference of the Collier-as-Scourge possibility, it comes labelled as "speculation" in an index overseen by the guy who actually created the Scourge (and thus would have been in a position to confirm it if it were actually true), it probably would be a huge leap to go ahead and accept the theory for tracking purposes.
This is especially the case since just following the Deluxe Edition's correction on Collier's past from the original OHOTMU already provides us with an answer to the mystery of what Collier's secret is here. Although it's a little weird that he'd be thinking "soon everyone'll find out" but there are plenty of other explanations for that which don't involve him planning to become a costumed crimefighter.
Posted by: Dan H. | October 10, 2015 11:46 AM
@DanH.: I'm more intrigued who you think was running the "Scourge organisation" when Collier was recruited by them?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | October 10, 2015 7:47 PM
I hadn't really gotten that far into it. Personally, I hate the later "Scourge organization" reveal. I'd have preferred it if Scourge's network had consisted simply of himself, Domino, and an accomplice/apprentice who was responsible for killing him and would have later turned up with the same M.O. but without Scourge's insistence on only killing convicted criminals (thus also explaining some of the hits carried out by what we thought was the original Scourge).
Since we are stuck with the later "Scourge organization" reveal though, I'd have to put his "recruitment" a lot closer to the time of his first hit on the Enforcer. Since there's no need for Collier to dream up and fund the operation, it doesn't need to happen over a period of years.
The whole Enforcer ID mess is so screwy that it actually appears that Collier (having been framed by Delazny) isn't exonerated, but actually sprung from prison before that can happen. I'm not sure how much time passes between that and the Enforcer's ACTUAL ID being established (if we go by the actual comics, then we actually have to conclude that when the REAL Enforcer is later captured and sent to prison, he is able to continue for some time the charade that he's Carson Collier, who he had previously framed. Because I guess fingerprints and mugshots don't exist. I-yi-yi).
Anyway - after being sprung from prison as part of Delazny's ruse to return to activity as the Enforcer, and since he apparently had had no luck getting the legal system to take him seriously about his innocence on the Enforcer matter - maybe Collier just goes into hiding for several years, during which he picks up some of the skills he'll later use as Scourge, but not all. At some point maybe just a couple of months prior to his first attack, he's targeted and recruited as an agent by the Scourge organization... whoever the Hell they are (Skull, Angel, whatever).
Posted by: Dan H. | October 11, 2015 12:36 PM
My (maybe) final thoughts on this...
There are at least two other active members of the Scourge organization during the original's rampage (speculation based on observations made by other commenters and readers).
Scourge B (Bloodstain?) is male and feels the insistence on only killing those convicted of a crime is restrictive. He kills the Hate Monger and goes after Flash Thompson (neither of whom has been convicted). In his escape from the aborted Thompson hit, he releases a bunch of other prisoners (something the "real" Scourge would have never done) and also kills the Wraith, who has likewise never been convicted of a crime. The "real" Scourge later hesitates to kill Captain America in exactly this same manner, resulting in his capture. Just very unlikely that they're the same guy. Even if Cap is a much more iconic and less controversial figure than the Wraith, someone with the encyclopedic knowledge the first Scourge has on super-types would know that the Wraith was a good guy.
Scourge C (Caprice?) is female and very much the opposite - to her, the letter of the law is unquestionable. The court system doesn't make mistakes in her eyes. Rather, it's overcrowded prisons and "soft on crime" politicians who are responsible for so many hardened criminals being out on the streets.
This Scourge kills Titania and later finds out (or is informed) about the "real" Scourge's true identity as Carson Collier. The whole "brother" story may have been concocted to cover for the fact that this Scourge was in fact himself a convicted criminal - yes, he was framed (or so he SAYS) but he was never exonerated. And worse (in the eyes of Scourge C), he actually made his first target someone who HADN'T been convicted of a crime (although he was in fact guilty, but in the eyes of the law, Delazny was innocent and Collier was the guilty one). So Scourge C tracks down and executes the first Scourge, feeling he is a disgrace to the organization. It isn't a case of Domino or someone in the Scourge org simply wanting to cover their tracks, it's a "legitimate" targeting of a convicted criminal.
I haven't read much Marvel past the eighties, so I don't know how this would actually work with later reveals (I used Bloodstain and Caprice as placeholders but "Scourge B" and "Scourge C" would probably be other people).
Posted by: Dan H. | October 11, 2015 1:12 PM
A page or two after the corpse of the Eel there's a panel where you can see a cardboard box full of what seems to be purple cloths (or a costume).
Posted by: jti88 . | June 9, 2017 5:46 AM
In retrospect, the Enforcer's first arc makes him pretty generic and largely unmotivated. why doe she want to disintegrate ships for fun and profit? What's the point of hiring the Gladiator, of all people, to come all the way out to the West Coast for this? (Maybe it's a play on the Gladiator's old ties to organized crime in the Maggia?) This is a pretty generic superhero book, and little in it is specific to the Ghost Rider character.
Also, GR sure seems to collect a lot of cast-off Daredevil characters, doesn't he? Even the Eel is kinda that, if you count his appearance back in Daredevil #6. Within a short span of issues, we;ve had Karen page (OK, she was placed in California), Stunt-Master (fine, there's a motorcycle connection, Death-Stalker (OK, maybe for a fun little crossover), but now the Gladiator, too?
Also, was drawing Ghost Rider frustrating for Gil Kane because there's technically no way to do an upnostril shot of a skeleton, or exciting because a skull enables shots that are arguably all-upnostril, all the time?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 15, 2018 8:06 PM
@Omar- Funny point, but think how frustrating it was for Kane to draw the Gladiator, a character with a helmet obscuring facial expressions.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 16, 2018 12:39 PM
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